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The Nation

March 30, 2011

Ohio House to vote on collective bargaining limits

(Continued)

COLUMBUS, Ohio —

"You gotta be kidding!" one man shouted.

"We're going to clear the balcony if it's necessary," responded House Speaker William Batchelder, a Medina Republican.

GOP members were coming to the defense of the measure even before floor debate started.

"This state cannot pay what we've been paying in the past," Batchelder said. "Local government and taxpayers need control over their budgets. This bill, as amended and changed, is a bill that will give control back to the people who pay the bills."

The House vote comes a day after a legislative committee approved changes to make the bill even tougher for unions. The GOP-backed revisions greased the measure for what was expected to be smooth passage in the House.

The Senate, also controlled by Republicans, narrowly passed the bill on a 17-16 vote this month. It would have to agree to the revisions before Gov. John Kasich could sign it into law. The Senate was likely to vote on the changes later Wednesday.

Kasich, a first-term Republican, supports the proposal.

"We think we have a program here that's going to allow local governments to deal with fewer dollars, it still protects the right of collective bargaining on things that we think are legitimate, and will help people be able to cope in a period of time when we do have fewer resources," Kasich told reporters Wednesday at a separate bill signing.

Kasich's $55.5 billion, two-year spending plan for the state counts on savings from relaxed union rights at the state and local levels. Local governments and school districts face deep cuts in the wake of the state's $8 billion budget gap.

"Unions didn't cause the problems of this budget," state Rep. Kenny Yuko, a Democrat from Richmond Heights, told his House colleagues during debate.

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